The Rogue Song
Series: (Laurel and Hardy)
Released: 10 May 1930
Filming dates: late 1929
My rating: 4/10
Director: Lionel Barrymore, Hal Roach
Producers: Paul Bern, Irving Thalberg
Screenplay: Robert Bodansky, John Colton, Frances Marion, A.M. Willner
Photography: Percy Hilburn, Charles Edgar Schoenbaum
Editor: Margaret Booth
Art director: Cedric Gibbons
Sound: Paul Neal, Douglas Shearer
Cast: Lawrence Tibbett, Catherine Dale Owen, Nance O'Neil, Judith Vosselli, Ullrich Haupt
Plot summary from the trailer (2 mins 28 secs):
Bandit Yegor (Lawrence Tibbett) sings to his beloved Princess Vera whilst she sits in his arms. Laurel and Hardy attempt to eat when a fly seems to buzz around them. Every time Stan attempts to take a bite of his food the buzzing noise returns. He looks to Ollie, who is equally baffled by the sound. Stan presses the side of his stomach and again the noise continues. Ollie asks, "What is it?" Stan presses on his stomach again and hears the buzzing noise again and starts to cry. Ollie then presses Stan's stomach to further amplify the sound. Yegor climbs through the bedroom window of his loved one and she sits up in bed, startled by his appearance; whilst an elderly woman sleeps in a chair nearby. During a fierce storm Yegor carries her into a tent and out of the rain. (*This scene is from the 'cave scene & storm sequence, listed below.) The rest of the trailer is divided up into on-screen titles which do their best to intice viewers into seeing it. From a technical point, the trailer appears in a faded colour (red) due to the deterioration of the original negative over the years.
Plot summary from the Czech reel (10 mins 51 secs):
..is partly mute but with an added soundtrack. It begins with Yegor singing to the Princess as Tatiana (Jusith Vosselli) sits by. Both women seem to be captivated by his romantic voice. At the end of the song, he playfully strokes the Princess's hair and she stands up, grabs her coat and leaves. Yegor doesn't seem too bothered by this and laughs it off. It would appear the woman in the black dress is quite smitten with Yegor and flirts with him very deliberately, placing her hands upon his cloak and moving her head within only a couple of inches of his, before turning away and laughing. She removes her necklace and places it in his hand and motions to kiss him but then sits back down. He does nothing to deter her from showing any affection. Smiling, he heads for the door, bows to her and then leaves. In the next scene, Yegor is sitting with Princess Vera (Catherine Dale Owen) and wooing her. She turns her back to him and he serenades her with a song (the audio track matches the action on-screen here). She tries to look disinterested but it is obvious she is falling for his charms. At the end of the song he touches her arm and she turns around and proclaims the song to be beautiful.
He begins a second song, this time holding her hands and facing towards her. He sings of his love for her and she loves every minute of it. After the song, he appears in the chambers of Tatiana, who dismisses her maid so that she can grant him an audience with her. She talks to him via a large mirror as he pokes his head between some curtains. He pulls something from his pocket and offers her back the necklace that she had handed to him previously. She accepts it but then throws it onto the floor angrily. A title card is displayed which reads "chci vám zazpívat jednu novou píseñ!" [translates to English as: "I want to sing a new song"] She seems annoyed at first but then starts to melt to his charming smile, which he maintains throughout. He moves up close to her ear and a conversation takes place between them. He closes his eyes and sings softly to her as she sits and smiles. At the end of the song she sits up abruptly as he moves away from her. Yegor appears through another curtain singing (still!) and sees Princess Vera sitting with another woman. Cut away to a uniformed officer who is observing Yegor as he continues to sing and becoming theatrical with his animated movements.
Plot summary from the cave scene and storm sequence (2 mins 49 secs):
Under the cover of darkness Yegor, Vera and an unidentified man stand outside in their camp. Yegor says there is work to be done and the other man leaves, with Vera clinging onto his arm. Yegor pulls her back towards him and angrily tells her that the man is under a spell and is not the same. He warns her that the man is like a brother to him and that he has a heart, even if she hasn't. He tells her he will not allow her to break the man's heart. She laughs. A bolt of lightning threatens and this hurries Yegor into action. He yells after the other camp-mates to take care of the tents and get the animals and wagons to high ground as a fierce wind picks up. A lone tent in the corner loses its coverings as a gale-force wind takes it off. The two men underneath are Stan and Ollie, who sit up and realise what has happened. They both shrug their shoulders and lie back down, covered up in their blankets.
The strong winds force Yegor and Vera to work together to avoid losing their own tent. She holds onto the tent posts as he tries to secure it to the ground. Others scramble along trying to find shelter from the storm, including a large brown bear which crawls into a cave in the rocks. A woman rescues a goat from a mud puddle and Ollie waves Stan into the cave.
Stan: "Phew, isn't it dark in here?"
Ollie: "It sure is. I can't see a thing"
Stan: "So can I"
Ollie: "What do you mean, 'so can I'? Lie down"
Ollie: "Say - where did you get that fur coat?"
Stan: "What fur coat?"
Ollie: "Haven't you got a fur coat on?"
Stan: "Well I ain't got no fur coat"
Ollie: "Well it feels like a fur coat"
The sound of growling and roaring scares them both out of the cave as they run for their lives crying. Back in the camp a tired Vera finally succumbs to Yegor and allows for him to pick her up and carry her away to the safety of a dry tent. A bolt of lightning strikes a nearby treee which breaks and falls down a small hill as horses break away and make a run for it.
Plot summary from the ballet sequence (5 mins 30 secs):
There are four well-dressed observers to the ballet sequence which takes place on a stage featuring twenty-four dancers dressed in white and in front of a painted forest backdrop.
They perform a synchronised dance next to a small pond (their reflections can be seen in it, adding to the effect). The dancers are in a line, one behind the other and the woman on the right leads the others. They form a chain of simulated arm movements which flows from right to left and then back again. Dancing on tip-toes, the two ladies on each end dance around the pond in a semi-circular motion and meet up in the middle. They split into two groups, each forming a circle before branching off into eight groups of three. The dance progresses into twirling before one dancer emerges into the middle of the large circle. This then breaks up back into one straight line with them making light swimming arm gestures.
Again, one dancer emerges to perform a solo twirling dance routine before merging back into the others as they all continue to perform symetrical dance moves. The dancers split into two groups and peel away to the sides as one dancer tip-toes backwards whilst swimming with her arms. The lead dancer then gets some considerable solo screen time as she dances off to the left. The other dancers re-emerge from the right doing almost a can-can style routine, raising their legs rather high as they filter inbetween one another. They split again in two groups to each side and dance, forming a large "V" shape as seen from above the stage by the camera. A lone dancer then runs back in through the centre of the two groups and joins the dance again. They all run to the back of the stage and assume a crouching position, where the screen transposes into a group of swans. The curtains to the stage are drawn and applause can be heard off camera.
My favourite bit:|
Of all the footage reviewed from the fragments that still exist I am going to be cheeky and nominate the cave scene featuring Stan and Ollie. They are not seen at all after entering but their voices can be heard as they engage in conversation. They have unwittingly followed a large brown bear into the cave and their conversation centres around Ollie thinking that Stan is wearing a fur coat. We, of course, are all awaiting their discovery of the bear and their reaction which will follow.
This footage is probably the best in terms of original colour quality and although the sequence is mostly whites, the details of the greens which form the backdrop for the forest really stand out as well. This brief sequence was discovered as recently as 1998 so with this in mind it seems conceivable that more footage from the film will ultimately be discovered one day and the entire film (hopefully) can be reconstructed in its entirety.
•Copyrighted March 26, 1930.
•World premier was on January 17, 1930.
•It is widely believed that most of the film is lost. This is actually false and quite the opposite: most of the film survives - with different parts in different archives.
•The 'Czech reel' is mostly footage shot from a screen displaying the movie and with a hand-held camera.
•In the scene where Yegor sings with Prince Serge watching on, there are very few edits.
•The colours on Stan and Ollie's tent covering are red, white and green stripes - the colours of the Italian national flag.
•When the wind removes their tent, Stan and Ollie both sit up. Stan is wearing some kind of a scarf around his head and ears.
•There are 24 dancers in the ballet sequence.
John Benson (articles)
Peter Mikkelsen (high resolution stills)
Jesse Brisson (identification of Sam Lufkin, Harry Bernard and Pete Gordon)
This page was last updated on: 15 April 2021